The Cumberland Throw

From The Stands – Parra & The NRL Must Step Up In Big Moments

Is it possible to be both happy and disappointed?

I can’t fault the effort or attitude of our Eels. With this team I have come to trust and expect such effort, but I now want more than that.

So what more do I want?

In my view Melbourne won the big moments. As a team we have to be like them. We have to start making the right decisions in the big moments.

Those important kicks, those important catches, those important defensive set of six, we have to win those moments and at the present time, in big games, we don’t win enough of them.

The thing is you have to be in big games to learn how to win them.

I hear people talking about BA and our team’s record in the finals. Under BA we have played 5 and won 1. Three of the four defeats have been against Melbourne away.

Well, how’s this for a record? Melbourne have lost only two home finals matches in the past 8 years. The Eels are not alone.

BA and our leaders have a big job. Parra needs to back up, and more importantly play smart.

Injuries may have been a factor during the Storm match but they cannot become an excuse going into the next game against the Bunnies. There are many sore bodies but it is what it is. Sore bodies are a part of football life, and the team must lift this week.

Melbourne deserved the win. I don’t like them, I don’t consider them a champion team as I cannot go past the lack of sportsmanship and terrible tactics they demonstrate on the field. But I must acknowledge that they were better than the Eels at exposing weaknesses.

A better moment from Saturday night

The Eels inability to turn momentum hurts them. Too many times Parra let in quick back to back tries. Champion teams don’t do that. I think the solution rests with being cut throat with recruitment, retention and junior development. Whoever is brought into the squad every year must help to drive a winning mentality.

Lazy markers hurt Parra at crucial times against Melbourne. If you cannot be trusted in the most crucial moment to do your job, to push through the pain barrier, you cannot be involved in finals football. Given that finals footy is every team’s goal, there is little point in having such players at the club. It might explain why some won’t be a part of the Eels going forward.

But it’s not just Parra that needs to lift its game in the finals series.

The finals might be played at home grounds or home cities of teams, but they are NRL staged events. Any advantage to one team should end with the benefit of playing closer to home in front of potentially more of their supporters.

So why do the NRL allow Melbourne to keep their opposition waiting on the field for an extended period after they have obviously been given the instruction to leave their sheds?

Before a ball is kicked off the Storm are allowed to control what happens and when it happens.

If an NRL official is not game enough to knock on the door and tell them to get out on the field when instructed, it is little wonder that the referee on the field struggles to control them.

Another issue is the standard of the finals referees. For mine, the root of this issue lies in he development of referees. Can you name an up and coming referee?

Under Mr Sutton and head of football Mr Annesley, we should expect to see young referees coming through the ranks, with a goal of developing better finals referees. I honestly cannot name one.

I work in upper management in my job with about 18 middle managers under my control. My middle managers are doing a good job when they create the right environment for their staff to grow and develop skills.

When the staff under their control get a promotion they are doing a good job.

Young referees in the NRL are not promoted. If we see a new face it’s on “nothing games” and then there’s the likelihood of being thrown under the bus on an almost weekly occurrence at Mr Annesley’s briefings.

They are not given opportunities.

Instead we have a boys club that rewards and protects yes men. The fact that Atkins, Cummins, Klein and Sutton were judged the four best referees for the finals is both the start and end of the problem.

What Mr Klein dished up on Saturday was embarrassing but not at all unforeseen. Experienced they may be, but fair, well respected, experienced referees were overlooked and have been overlooked all season.

I could accept older referees being overlooked if young up and coming referees were selected.

Instead referees who have been tried and failed many times before were once again given the chance.

They say the fish rots from the head. I don’t want another review conducted of the referee system. Maybe what needs to be reviewed is the officials, the managers who set up and oversee the entire process. Maybe the problem is at the head of that NRL fish.

Junior’s message

Enough of the negative. There’s still footy left in this season for the Eels.

I cannot wait for next week. I was a little deflated on Saturday night and then on Sunday morning I saw Junior’s social media message and felt excited.

Thank you Junior. I will back our boys.

I am not ignorant to our issues. Like most of you I know them all too well but my team is still in the fight. I know they are going to give their all and so will I. I cannot make any tackles for them but I can give them my unconditional support. Good luck boys, play well.

This game is as big as our opening of the stadium game. Be there Blue and Gold Army. Join us in cheering loudly for our boys.

You never know, we might even pressure the referee into giving us a 6 again that is not on the first or second tackle!


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Great article again Shelley. The inconsistency of the six again rule frustrates the life out of me, tackles you think should be six again aren’t and others get the six again. The amount of tackles made on Parra that referees deem dominant are a joke. Don’t get me started on how long before they call held a player has to basically be lying on the ground with three on top of him. Held is as soon as forward momentum has stopped the tackled player doesn’t have to be on the ground and I’m talking about all games not just the… Read more »

Brett Allen

The rules say nothing about the momentum having to be forward, just momentum, in any direction.


The rules states no further progress can be made.


My prediction with the six again in this. I will watch next year and chuckle as this unfolds. Once the coaches have had an offseason to get in wrestling coaches to teach players how to lock in defenders arms to get a six again the NRL will react by having a crack down on attacking players and penalise them. This won’t work and the score lines will blow out, ratings will go down, then the NRL will start sin binning teams who give repeated six agains and this will only encourage coaches to perfect the ability to lock in defenders.… Read more »


Agree 100% Shelley
I was there and disgusted with what went on,from the making eels wait on the field, the 40 second captain’s challenge and the stopping of play for a cramp 50 metres behind play, which we had them on the rack. Add also the eternity Smith takes to kick a goal, don’t they have a shot clock anymore. Proud of the boys and got a lot of compliments by storm supporters on way out of ground.
Bring on the bunnies

Brett Allen

Gamesmanship is part and parcel of pro sport, I just wish we were that shrewd.


Brett you’re right we need to be as ruthless as those bastards. I am sorry but we seem to cop it but need to dish it out and on the score board too.




Great piece Shelley. I agree with all of this except – I reckon we keep opposition teams waiting a while at Bankwest.


You are probably right. That is the problem. The NRL let minor things go and eventually the become big difficult things to solve. They only respond to things the media complain about, hence the weekly head of football briefings. I am not sure if you have ever watched them but Mr Annesley actually states in the briefing, this try etc got a lot of discussion.

Colin Hussey

Watching the game yesterday knights/souths, gubble mouth gus drove me nuts but he made a couple of links with the eels, & knights, and another losing team that opened the scoring and went 14 – 0 before being run down by the eventual winners. Have read other posts about lazy defence by the eels, the penalties and the like, while I don’t like the loss, what I watched on the weekend is another episode of a team/club control the game. In this case the eels and ref are on the field while the other mob had yet to do their… Read more »


Yes Shelley, we are definitely getting better, the middle has been fixed to a large degree, we were getting better(although inconsistent) at defending red zone raids, although I think mainly due to young blokes, energy, scramble, maybe not formation and application. These better teams have simply moved the wide shifts back up the field, did you notice the Storm play quick, run really quick and even our scramble thinned out. Souths vía Reynolds and Walker are silky in the red zone. At the 30 minute mark, the Storm had 65% possession, no wonder they struck back and got into rhythm.… Read more »


I read a quote today that went “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” I think that sums everything up about our season. Go Parra and play with all the heart you have!


Good post Shelley, I am taking the refs out of it as we cannot control this and I go back to 2017 when it was also bad. To me we had an excuse in 2017 but not this weekend. There has been no improvement with the refs for many years now….and yes those who got the jobs are avg to say the least. To me we allowed them to run, and we have to control the ruck better. Shelley you hit it on the head, we need to be more like Melbourne, and thats to be ruthless, with the ball… Read more »


Another tell it as it is article. Totally agree with everything written here.
I’m sure our boys will give their all against the Bunnies, if they fall short I will still say I’m proud of them.
The big thing for me is how does Parra become a consistent force like the Roosters and, gulp, Storm.
Shelley hit the nail on the head for me. Cut throat recruitment, retention and a strong junior base. Fine examples of this are with our Panthers neighbours. We will never be a consistent force unless we adopt these models.


I think we have a talented football team, sadly I believe we are not tough between the ears, and crumble under pressure.

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